GCSAA Chief Executive Officer Mark J. Woodward, CGCS, called the efforts of Bethpage golf course superintendent Craig Currier, his staff and the more than 150 volunteers "amazing" and "inspirational" as they fought heavy rains to ensure the completion of the 2009 U.S. Open on Monday.
"Having served as the host golf course superintendent for the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, I fully appreciate what a massive undertaking it is even when the weather cooperates," Woodward said. "To accomplish what the golf course management team did under Craig is amazing and inspirational. They are a credit to the profession, the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, and the game."
Currier, who is only the second person to have hosted a U.S. Open at the same facility (joining GCSAA certified golf course superintendent Paul Jett of Pinehurst No. 2), is not daunted by the fact that rains in 2002 and 2009 made his task even more complicated.
"I want another one," Currier said. "The USGA and the players know Bethpage is a great venue. We have been unfortunate with the weather, but that doesn't take away from what this course offers. I know my staff feels the same way. They were tremendous leading up to the event and just fantastic this past week. I cannot say enough about them and the volunteers."
The Bethpage golf course management staff of 60 was joined by more than 150 volunteers from around the world, predominantly from the host GCSAA chapter, the Long Island Golf Course Superintendents Association. The practice of using GCSAA volunteers at high profile golf events is standard and largely the reason the high quality conditions can be achieved in comparison to daily play at non-tournament venues.
"The volunteers and their coordination is the great untold story," Woodward said. "Orchestrating the volunteers to condition the course in a limited time so as to not interrupt practice or play is a talent in itself. I also credit the facilities for allowing their golf course staff members to pitch in at Bethpage. The weather affected them as well, but the facilities realized the gravity of the situation and were there for assistance."
Recognition of the effort has flowed in from all corners, including the USGA, the players, media, fans, the office of the New York governor and others. It also confirms what Mike Davis, USGA senior director of rules and competitions, has said previously regarding the role of superintendents in hosting that association's events.
"There is no individual who has bigger impact on any U.S. Open than the golf course superintendent," Davis said.
The effort was not lost upon Tiger Woods, the world's No. 1 ranked player said after one of his rounds, "the staff did a hell of a job getting the golf course ready. I'm sure they worked all night to try to get this golf course playable, and it was great out there."
Woodward is quick to mention that the task at Bethpage, while playing out on a much larger scale and under the spotlight of a major championship, is replayed across the nation on a daily basis. He said the GCSAA network of members and resources provides immeasurable value in ensuring facility success and customer satisfaction.
The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America is a leading golf organization and has as its focus golf course management. Since 1926, GCSAA has been the top professional association for the men and women who manage golf courses in the United States and worldwide. From its headquarters in Lawrence, Kan., the association provides education, information and representation to more than 20,000 members in more than 72 countries. GCSAA's mission is to serve its members, advance their profession and enhance the enjoyment, growth and vitality of the game of golf. The association's philanthropic organization, The Environmental Institute for Golf, works to strengthen the compatibility of golf with the natural environment through research grants, support for education programs and outreach efforts. Visit GCSAA at www.gcsaa.org.